It’s 55 degrees on Friday Oct. 21, the coldest night Birmingham has felt this fall. Downtown is buzzing with activity to celebrate the end of the week – the skyline is lit up, bars and restaurants are filled, and the BJCC is packed with scores of delighted Disney lovers for “Disney on Ice”. However, 600 feet behind the arena housing the dazzling light and ice show, is an eerie juxtaposition – Birmingham’s horror film fans have gathered for an evening of screening independent films in a cemetery.
Oak Hill Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Birmingham. Its 21.5 acres are located in the Northside neighborhood and house the remains of around 10,000 deceased souls. On a cold Friday in October the cemetery also housed the Underground Filmfest Horror Series where seven short, independent horror films were screened along with the first zombie movie, “Night of The Living Dead” (1968).
Events like Underground Filmfest Horror Night bring about the question of why do people enjoy being scared? Lynsey Taylor, a self-described horror aficionado in the audience, said that she loves the feeling of being scared because it brings an adrenaline rush that’s better than rollercoasters. “I love horror movies and being scared… I watch them all year, but October is my favorite month because everyone else jumps on the horror-train, too.”
Conversely, not everyone who watches horror films finds them scary. “I love scary movies because honestly most of them don’t scare me,” McKenzie Cavin said. “I mostly just came because I love cemeteries.” Cavin said that she wasn’t phased by any of the films shown at the festival, which she expected.
Unlike Cavin, other Birmingham horror-lovers sat among the tombstones in the chilly weather expecting a night filled with nightmare-inducing terror, and, unfortunately, were disappointed. “We came last year, and were really excited about coming again this year,” Taylor said as she was packing up her lawn chairs and two dogs to leave early. “This year just wasn’t as good. It doesn’t feel as good as it did last year, and the movies just weren’t as good.”
Josh Taylor, Lynsey’s husband, remarked, “I wish I could get into these movies and have a good time, but to be frank it’s just not what I was expecting,” he said. “We were hoping for a fun night out but it’s just a bust. And it’s cold, no one likes being cold.”
While the weather can’t be helped, the selection of films can. The consensus from this year’s festival attendees was that the movies selections were lacking in quantity and quality. “It just seemed like there were more films last year and a lot more of them were really good. They creeped you out but made you think at the same time.” Josh Taylor said.
Even though the films were lackluster, the Underground Filmfest Horror Series was still a fun pick for a Friday night. After all, it isn’t every evening that you get to watch movies in a cemetery.